Time Fountain, Fundaciò Antoni Tapies, Barcelona, 1995


This work was designed for the central atrium, where In the higest level, two delicate repetitive sounds were placed - the clockwork mechanisim of the Campanar de Gracia and the "Mercury Fountain' of Alexander Calder. The clockwork mechanism consists of brass gears moving and stopping, with an alternating time structure of sound and silence behind which the ambient murmer of the town square of Gracia was heard,. This delicate sound was puntuated every 15 minutes by the bells that mark the passage of time. The "Mercury Fountain" of Alexander Calder (located at the Fundaciò Joan Miro) is sealed in a glass chamber that no one can enter. However, this sculpture does produce interesting sounds of the flowing and falling mercury, which is also a secret sound.



These two sounds floated above the architectural space of the atrium . At the same moment they were also heard in Madrid, in a resonant staircase of the Reina Sophia. The resonant acoustics of this large space expanded the two sound sources in time by making them echo. This echo was brought back to the Fundació Tàpies, where they were played from loudspeakers mounted one level below the apex, in the corners of the balcony (that is directly below the apex). People standing by the railing of the balcony, with their ears clearly between the two levels, heard the spatial differentiation of the time expansion. On ground level, directly in the center of the atrium, a wooden bench containing a low frequency loudspeaker played the sub sonic shadows of passing subway trains coming from a microphone placed in a nearby subway tunnel.
Staircase at Reina Sofia, Madrid

Digital Photo-montage of Time Fountain, Fudaçio Antoni Tapies, © Bill Fontana, 1995    
© Bill Fontana, 1996